As we discussed in an earlier blog, public safety security solutions that leverage consultants frequently don’t work out the best for government agencies or the people they serve. It’s not a lack of good intention—most leaders and consultants really are trying to do their best. But the nature of the consultancy rarely meets expectations about the finished safety and security project.

On paper, it seems like a great idea. Working with an expert to design a security project that can presumably save you in total cost of ownership. What’s not to like about that? As it turns out, plenty. But don’t just take our word for it.

Here’s a true story of a public entity that had a disastrous experience with a consultant so you can learn from their mistakes.

The Problems Started with the Design

To be clear, we’re not saying that there was bad intent here, but this project was a disaster right from the start. In the first place, it took three years for the consultant to produce a basic layout for the client, and the layout was woefully incomplete. It notated what devices were required and where they should be placed, but the “plan” was devoid of an overall structure and strategy to help solve the problem in question. And this isn’t uncommon for consultation projects—they’re often missing the most important elements of a true public safety security strategy, which could mean the difference between measurable, effective safety implementations… and just a shopping list of equipment.

The Issues Continued with Implementation

One of the biggest misalignments with consultant-based projects is that the consultants don’t actually complete the install. That means you’re shelling out thousands of dollars for a plan that is likely inadequate for the solution partner to implement without a major overhaul. It’s impossible to budget for something like this because you’ll need to get bids from technology integrators themselves (and not the consultant). That’s exactly what happened with this poor agency—they had to go get bids from integrators, wasting more time and resources – only to discover that the plan had many discrepancies and issues. All of this wound up costing the organization (and ultimately the taxpayers) more money, time, resources, and energy.

And Support is the Final Nail in the Coffin

Think about it this way: if a consultant isn’t even present for the implementation, how present do you think he or she will be when you need ongoing support?  Remember how we said that these specialists work based on the theory that they will be saving their clients money by implementing the right solutions? How likely do you think that success rate was based on the fact that the design wasn’t even complete? The project delay alone was likely enough to offset most of the potential savings of that project – not to mention the increase in price of technology over that three-year span. This doesn’t even begin to account for the stress and frustration the team went through during the process. So the support component that is so important to successful solutions does not exist.

The Verdict is In

We promise we’re not just here to pick on consultants. Most of them have the best of intentions, and it’s a great model in theory. Some integrators don’t have the capability to create a strategy, so the consultants are genuinely trying to solve a problem that exists. The issue is that it’s an over-engineered solution and doesn’t often pan out in the way it is intended. Your best bet is to find a true public safety security partner—one that has the ability to build a comprehensive strategy based on your overall objectives and has a vested interest in your success (with results as well as saving you money). Learn from this story and don’t waste the next three years on an incomplete strategy that doesn’t produce results.

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